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Immediate Reactions: Blue Jackets 4, Sabres 1

blog by Ryan Nagelhout  • 

With a bit more than five minutes left in the second period on Thursday, a good portion of the First Niagara Center crowd started chanting.

Unable to make it out at first, it soon became clear the good people of Buffalo were chanting “MAKE IT STOP.” It was soon replaced by a synth organ version of The Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling,” which segued into the musical cue for a “Let’s Go Buffalo” chant. The resulting chant was unsurprisingly lackluster, because the score was 4-1 Columbus and it didn’t get better.

I’m pretty sure they chanted, “MAKE IT STOP,” but it could have been my internal monologue up in the First Niagara Center press box. Either way, those cries will go unanswered. The 2013-14 season is just getting started for the Buffalo Sabres, and it’s not going very well. Buffalo was embarrassed at home on Thursday, a 4-1 final that kept them winless on the season and altogether listless at home.

Much like Tuesday night’s overtime loss to Tampa Bay, there were goals. There was also an own goal, with Tyler Myers’ stick assisting Mike Weber’s skate on a goal after the big man got in the way of a Nick Foligno centering pass in the first period. The goal went to Foligno—his first scored in his hometown—but Columbus managed to intentionally score goals with Cam Atkinson, Marian Gaborik and Brandon Dubinsky as well to seal the deal early in the second period.

The worst part about this 0-4-1 start isn’t the effort, which has been quite bad. Rather, the indifference from those in attendance is what’s alarming about this season. Even the boos were lackluster on Thursday night, a smattering here and there after the first and second periods. The photo at the top of this post says it all. It was a late-arriving crowd that never filled the building in the first place, then found little to cheer for after the puck dropped. The loudest “boo” of the game came when Drew Stafford appeared on the Jumbotron to talk about his wife’s yoga certification during a commercial break in the third period. I am not making this up. It did, however, get a bit rowdy later in the third with a “Fire Regier” chant. Eventually, everyone just left.

Thomas Vanek had a brilliant goal that made things loud for a bit. There were three fights that got the crowd temporarily excited. A Veteran got a well-deserved standing ovation during a commercial break. Beyond that, it was a routine gathering of 18,210 in downtown Buffalo on Thursday. This is the new reality of the Buffalo Sabres: Enduring the on-ice product while checking your phone for the team schedule, trying to determine where the team can find its first win.

If you like a bargain, the secondary market for this team is sure to tickle your fancy. If you’re looking for excitement, however, you may want to look for it in another dimension.

Fresh Hot Takes

— Ron Rolston tried just about every potential defender to partner with Tyler Myers. With designated Myers Minion Henrik Tallinder still practicing without contact, the Sabres are desperate to get the former Calder Trophy winner going. It didn’t work. McBain, Ristolainen, Weber. Nothing. After a promising preseason I think it’s officially time to be concerned about the 23-year-old. That boy just ain’t right.

— Veteran national anthem singer Doug Allen had the night off on Thursday, with 8-year-old Baylee Morrison taking over the mic. Strong as always, you have to wonder if Allen will be traded to a contender at the deadline with such a promising backup on his heels.

— The Vanek-Ott-Hodgson line was the line bright spot for the Sabres on Thursday. Thomas Vanek scored an incredible goal in front on a centering pass from Ott. Vanek, all alone in front, let the pass slide through his legs before roofing it to tie the game at one. Vanek later failed to score on a breakaway midway through the third period that would have brought the Sabres within two. I have no idea what Vanek will be worth in the trade market later this season, but I know I will miss him dearly if he goes. There isn’t a replacement for Vanek on this team. I’m not sure there is one anywhere in the system, really.

— The signage at Sabres games has been more of the same this season. Some Ott stuff here and there, but it’s no Goose’s Roost or Mair’s Office. AT&T wants to change that with some signage of their own, and it’s for a good cause.

You can go to the “Connection Center” in the concourse and make up your own Sabres sign with anything (well, not ANYTHING) you want on it. It might even get your face on the Jumbotron. AT&T pledges a dollar to the ECMC Lifeline Foundation for each card created, which is nice of them. Check it out if you’re going to next Saturday’s game against Colorado.

Welcome, People of Canada
Thursday night’s game was the first of 50 Sabres broadcasts available on television in Canada this season. Bell will broadcast the games to Southern Ontario in an effort to appease Canadians stuck watching Toronto three nights a week despite First Niagara Center sitting within steak-throwing distance of their homes.

This will likely do little to satisfy those in Hamilton hoping professional hockey comes to Copps Coliseum. I’ll be the one to say it: It’s not happening. Blackberry is dead, folks. It ain’t coming back. You’ll have to get a real smartphone and be ordinary like the rest of us. Watching this Sabres team will prepare you for a lifetime of mediocrity. Just embrace it.

Hot Twitter Takes of the Game

I’m looking forward to having this guy covering the Sabres.

Trying not to make all these tweets related to Tomas Hertl, but that guy’s pretty fun compared to this team. Google “Joe Thornton, four goals” if you don’t get that reference.

Hit of the Night
This probably goes to the Pat Kaleta hit that sparked a pair of fights in the first period. Kaleta fought Jared Boll, while Cody McCormick scrapped with Dalton Prout shortly after. McCormick actually hit the ice, then got back up to throw some more punches and take a judges’ decision in the bout. The judge, of course, is me. None of this matters, but it was the only thing the Sabres won on Thursday.

Scratch of the Game
Mikhail Grigorenko, Buffalo Sabres— I’m thrilled that Lindy Ruff Ron Rolston is going along with my plan to make Grigorenko my best friend. With the 19-year-old stuck noshing on popcorn in the press box, I’m a chance encounter at the soda fountain away from a lovely Saturday afternoon picking pumpkins with the 12th overall pick in the 2012 NHL Draft. The scheme is afoot.

Hometown Hero Villain of the Night
Nick Foligno — Foligno is from Buffalo, New York. Crap. I forgot they had Nick Foligno. That’s unfortunate.
Did you know? Both Nick Foligno and the Sabres’ Marcus Foligno have fathers named Mike. What a coincidence!

Stat-line I liked:
Thomas Vanek: 252 career goals
— He’s now tied for fifth in team history with Craig Ramsay. He is, however the undisputed No. 1 in the hearts of Austrian hockey fans everywhere.

Stat-line I didn’t like:
Tyler Myers, -3, 0 points
— Myers probably wishes he could simulate a few of these games

Next Game: Saturday (10/5) at Chicago. I’m sure that will go well.


Ryan Nagelhout is a freelance writer who blogs at The Goose’s Roost when he’s not writing children’s books.

 

TAGGED: buffalo sabres, downtown, hockey, immediate reactions, ryan nagelhout

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